While medical emergencies almost always come unannounced, the presence of a doctor in such situations plays a significant role in saving lives. An incident which took place on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to New Delhi on New Year’s Eve, 2018, amply illustrates this point.
A passenger on the flight needed urgent medical attention, and had it not been for the timely action of Dr Payal Puri Sharma, his co-passenger, the man wouldn’t have lived to tell the tale.
A resident of Panchkula and a General Physician at the Civil Hospital in Sector 6, Dr Payal was fast asleep but woke up upon hearing a man cry out for help. This was shortly followed by the cabin crew seeking medical help for him.
Upon realising that she was the only doctor around, she raised her hand.
“I was seated in one of the rear seats of the aircraft. I stood up and saw a man, who was semi-conscious and breathing heavily. I immediately asked the crew to shift him to the business class seat so that he feels comfortable,” Dr Payal said to The Tribune.
She immediately asked the cabin crew to fetch the in-flight crash cart kit and checked the blood pressure of the passenger. When she asked the man’s wife about his medicines and medical prescription, she was told that they had exhausted the prescribed medication a day before the due travel and couldn’t purchase it as the medicine was not available in Toronto.
Unfortunately, the family was not carrying the medical prescription with them in their cabin baggage either.
Without wasting any time, Dr Payal and the cabin crew got to work. While the doctor began reviving the 42-year-old by conducting a cardiac massage using the standard process of resuscitation, the air hostesses rushed in the emergency health kit and oxygen tank. This helped in providing oxygen-supplemented resuscitation to the passenger.
After this, Dr Payal administered the required medicines from the crash cart to stabilise the man’s condition and followed up with another dosage of medicines after half an hour. These actions made his blood pressure return to normal.
Dr Payal’s selfless act hasn’t gone unnoticed. She has received a letter from Dr Jim Chung, Chief Medical Officer, Air Canada, who personally thanked her for the medical assistance. “Now, the airline has provided me with a voucher offering 30 per cent discount on future travel as a token of appreciation,” added the doctor.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)